Getting Email Delivered - the ISIPP SuretyMail Blog

How the Email Deliverability Accreditation and Reputation Industry is Eating Itself Alive

One of our mottos is “In all things, be honourable.” I demand it of our employees. We insist on it with our customers. I strive for it in my personal interactions.

And I expect it of others in our industry.

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Unfortunately, and always to my surprise (as I am eternally pollyannic), my expectations for honourable behaviour among our colleagues and competitors are not always met.

In fact, quite the opposite, we are increasingly finding that others in our industry are scratching and clawing, throwing mud and raking muck, and, well, completely making stuff up.

It’s very disappointing and disheartening.

And, while I’m on this subject, let me just put this out here:

It is never ok to diss the competition.


It’s a terrible sales technique, and it’s an even worse corporate practice.

(Oh, I can hear folks saying “Hey, if it’s good enough for presidential candidates, it’s good enough for business.”)

But it isn’t, so let me repeat – it is never, ever ok to diss the competition. For a host of business reasons, which I won’t go into here, but hopefully, you know what they are. Or, at least, you know not to do it.

In fact, we are so clear on this at ISIPP SuretyMail, that doing so would be a fireable offense.

It’s. Just. Not. Ok.

When you are trying to get a sale, the way to do it is to talk about why your product / service / widget is so much better than the available alternatives.

You don’t try to sell your product or service by telling the prospect how bad everyone else is.

Even if they are.

But especially if they aren’t.

This is just basic business, as well as basic human decency.

Fortunately, trash talking the competition is also bad business, and rarely works, so that those who do it eventually learn that it doesn’t actually help their sales, or their bottom line.

But it’s still disgusting.

Here are some examples of things that our customers have shared with us, that they have been told by various companies out in the email industry:

  • “We are currently using email sending solution X and they shut our service off without telling us first when they realized that we weren’t sending all of our email through them.”
  • “I was looking at so-and-so a company just to check out what they offered, and they told us we had to leave you or they wouldn’t even talk to us.”
  • “One of your competitors contacted us and told us that you aren’t doing X, Y, and Z for us, and that we should demand you prove you would do it or we should leave and go to them.”

    Now, note that these are things that our customers are telling us – they come to us and tell us what they are hearing because they are always surprised to hear things like this from other “professionals”. It’s never actually raised the issue – let alone lead to the result – that the other “professional” was hoping for. That’s because we do follow our own motto, and attempt, in all things, to be honourable. Also, we are very clear with our customers about what we can, and can’t, do for them. And our customers love us for it – and of course it helps that we provide deliverability that’s second to none, at a price that’s lower than none. And our customers know it.

    So I usually just shake my head over what we’re hearing, and let it go.

    But this week we heard something so preposterous – so outlandish – in fact such a bald-faced lie – that, well, it lead to this post.

    Here’s what we heard:

  • “I just got done talking with an email deliverability professional and they told me specifically that the effect of working with your service would be minimal, and that none of the major ISPs work with you at all.”

    Let me tell you, I was flabbergasted.

    Because not only was it patently untrue – I mean nobody who has any familiarity with our service could say that with a straight face – but that someone who held themselves out as an expert in the industry could either a) say that and believe it, or b) say that knowing it was untrue, demonstrates that our industry has truly gone to the dogs.

    Have we become as bad as the spammers from which our own email senders are attempting to distinguish themselves?

    Are we, as an industry, telling email senders that they must be truthful and honourable, while we are exemplifying exactly the opposite behaviour in our business practices?

    Make no mistake – these shenanigans are not hurting our own business in the slightest; in fact they only serve to make our customers and prospective customers appreciate our candor and transparency all the more.

    But, they are hurting our industry. They are making the industry less credible, and harder to take seriously. They are dragging down the reputation of our industry. Oh, the irony, given that it’s an industry that’s all about reputation.

    I’ve been in this industry since before it was an industry. Back when I was one of the original founders of Habeas, Habeas was the first actual email deliverability company – and we didn’t even know that’s what it was at the time. SenderScore, which originally was called Bonded Sender, was spun out by Ironport at about the same time as a service for Ironport customers – whose email was getting blocked because the Ironport appliance was so effective at sending out high volumes of email that it made them look like spammers. Ironport opened up Bonded Sender to others within weeks of our launching Habeas, and thus, between the two, was the email deliverability industry born.

    At that time Scott Weiss, as CEO of Ironport, and I, as CEO of Habeas, would occasionally meet at industry functions and chat – there was certainly no animosity, and it was clear that this new industry was large enough to support several players, and, we agreed, we were all there to accomplish the same thing: to help ISPs be able to distinguish wanted email from spam, which allowed them to better deal with spam, and also allowed legitimate senders to not have to worry about whether their email would get delivered.

    We got along. We even referred people to each other. And when I left Habeas, and took the helm at ISIPP, and when email senders and receivers came to us and asked us to please create an email deliverability service at ISIPP, we made a point of not only speaking positively about the other services, but of actually giving senders who used other services positive points in our own reputation scoring system.

    So, perhaps you can understand how disheartened I am to see the depths to which some in the industry have reached in just a few short years.

    Disheartened, yes. But also surprised. And shocked. Occasionally even disgusted.

    But mostly, it just makes me sad.

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    « Previously: The Importance of Reverse DNS (rDNS) for Good Email Deliverability


    This article originally written on May 11, 2016, and is as relevant now as when it was first written.